The name Cherry Vanilla may conjure nothing more than an ice cream flavor for some, but anyone obsessed with David Bowie, Andy Warhol or the well-documented hedonism of '70's New York nightlife knows it's in fact, the more-than-apropos moniker for a multi-faceted woman who played a pivotal role in all of the above. Yes, she was a hot dish and self-proclaimed sex freak, but Cherry V, was also a savvy PR maven, a talented poet and even a musician herself, along with being a “groupie.”
In her new book, Lick Me- How I Became Cherry Vanilla (by way of the Copacabana, Madison Avenue, The Fillmore East, Andy Warhol, David Bowie, and The Police), CV recounts many of her trysts Pamela Des Barres- style, but the tome is also a revealing and humorous chronicle of the music and art world at the time.
Vanilla, who lives in LA these days, did two book reading events here last week. We attended her intimate event at Tavin (a whimsical Echo Park vintage boutique that's been hosting lively author salons with help of writer Steffie Nelson) last Friday night. With the bevy of beauteous Janis Joplin-esqie Boho frocks in the store, it was no surprise that most attendees at the reading wanted Cherry to share her section about making love with Kris Kristofferson, but our wish for a Bowie bit was also granted, and it was as cosmically intense and otherworldy-sounding as one might expect.
Bowie, Warhol (she starred in the popart icon's infamous stage production, Pork) and Kristofferson weren't the only famous men in Cherry's life. John Lennon and Jimi Hendrix also make appearances in the book, and when she got into doing music herself, Vanilla's back-up band was none other than The Police. Well, two of them.
After releasing a track on the seminal Max's Kansas City comp album in 1976, and an art book, Pop Tart, after that, she moved to London and became part of the UK punk and new wave scene. Sting was her bass player and Stewart Copeland was her drummer.
On stage, Miss Vanilla was apparently a saucy dynamo, but her sexuality and the candor with which she's always expressed it, is what got her the most attention back in the day and it continues to do so now that the book is released. We're mid-Lick and so far so juicy…
Check out an excerpt from her ballsy poem, “Memo the Muddy Minded Members of the Music Medium,” (written after after getting dissed by three of her conquests: sax king Bobby Keys, Flutist Jeremy Steig and blues man John Hammond), below.
Fuck you, all you rock star guys
Who come to me with cocks on the rise
Back room, low tones, hot and dirty
Late night horny, sweet and flirty
Fuck you 'cause you just don't know
This lady's head beyond the blow
Words of wisdom, goodness too
Wasted on the likes of you….
Hear Vanilla read the whole poem and more at her next reading, this Monday evening, Nov. 15 at Book Soup.
See this week's Nightranger for more on Cherry, including two scoops about her Chateau Marmont event last week, where Angie Bowie herself caused a li'l ruckus.
See Cherry Vanilla's website for more hot pics and licks.